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Don carries weight of expectation for jump debut

CHAMPAGNE FEVER and Don Cossack hold a lot of similarities. Last season both were beaten just once in a bumper, Champagne Fever won four and Don Cossack won three.

A disliking for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham meant that Gigginstown didn't want Don Cossack to head for the Cotswolds in March as Champagne Fever went there and returned to Punchestown to win both Grade One contests.

Willie Mullins' charge made a winning debut over hurdles last weekend and Don Cossack can be expected to do the very same this weekend as he embarks on the next stage of a very exciting career.

Gordon Elliott is famously a Grand National winning trainer after success with Silver Birch. Jessie's Dream brought him Grade One success and courtesy of Dirar he won one of the biggest Flat handicaps, the Ebor at York. However, it is widely accepted that Don Cossack will provide some very big days for the yard.

Since November 8, Elliott has had 22 runners, five of them have won and only three that completed (three fallers) were out of the first four.

His move from Capranny to a fascinating purpose-built base at Cullentra outside Longwood has been a seamless transition and with 35 horses in training for Don Cossack's owner Michael O'Leary and his Gigginstown House Stud operation, 'The Don', can be the flag bearer.

Navan on Sunday is due to be his starting point over hurdles, providing the County Meath track gets the green light with an unfavourable weather forecast, and Bonisland is another Elliott/Gigginstown entry that catches the eye over the weekend.

Elliott purchased Bonisland for Gigginstown after he impressively won his point to point and on both his starts for his new yard he has won impressively.

Bonisland holds an entry at Gowran Park tomorrow but is more likely to head to the Grade Two Irish Form Book Monksfield Novice Hurdle where he could face three-time winner Seefood for the in-form Dessie Hughes and the impressive maiden winner Home Farm for Arthur Moore.

Shark Hanlon's Hidden Cyclone will head to Gowran Park tomorrow as he continues on the quest to fulfil his trainer's ambitions of Gold Cup glory and he will face an interesting field, which includes Henry de Bromhead's Buckers Bridge.

On Sunday at Navan, one of last season's leading novice hurdlers Alderwood could make his chasing debut in the beginners' chase in which Sword Of Destiny is also entered.

A documentary on Punchestown Racecourse and its National Hunt Festival, called Seeing Out The Distance, will be aired on TG4 tomorrow at 9.20pm and is a must see for racing enthusiasts.

The 65-minute programme features stories relating to Punchestown and the routes of Ireland's most famous National Hunt track dating back to the early 1800s and includes incredible footage of the famous match race between Buck House and Dawn Run.